July 16, 2020 CNA Daily News Print

CNA Staff, Jul 16, 2020 / 05:45 am (CNA).- A German archdiocese is pressing ahead with plans to dramatically reduce the number of its parishes despite the Vatican’s decision to block a similar plan in another diocese.

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German language news partner, reported July 15 that Archbishop Stephan Burger intends to turn the archdiocese’s 1,000 parishes into 40 mega


In a July 14 letter to archdiocesan staff, Burger described the proposal as an “adequate response to the challenges facing our archdiocese.”

He said: “At the moment, I see no reason to make any changes to the objectives and the main features of the project.” 

The Archdiocese of Freiburg, which has almost 1,000 priests and serves 1.8 million Catholics, is located in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. According to official statistics published in June, 22,287 people formally left the Church in the archdiocese in 2019

The reorganization project, known as “Church Development 2030,” is currently being discussed in deaneries. Their feedback will result in a second draft. After further discussion, a final decision will be taken on the program by the end of the year. 

The Vatican intervened last month to stop the Diocese of Trier, located in the west of Germany near the border with Luxembourg, from merging its 887 parishes into 35 larger parishes, following a three-year diocesan synod.

The diocese said that two Vatican departments — the Congregation for Clergy and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts — had raised concerns about “the role of the pastor in the leadership team of the parish, the service of other priests, the conception of the parish bodies, the size of the future parishes and the speed of implementation.”

Trier diocese is now working on a new plan to address the Vatican’s objections. 

The official website of “Church Development 2030” argued that the Vatican’s concerns did not apply to the program for Freiburg archdiocese. 

“For the archdiocese, this decision of the Congregation for the Clergy has currently no consequences. According to canon 515 §2 it is ‘the diocesan bishop alone’ who can establish, abolish or change parishes; provided due process is adhered to,” it said. 

“Despite the present suspension of the implementation of the decisions of the Trier synodal assembly, we believe that neither the Congregation for the Clergy nor the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts will restrict this fundamental right of the bishop to exercise his pastoral ministry.”



It seems very drastic to me that any bishop would close down over 900 parishes and replace them with 40 !

Especially when there are over 1000 priests in the diocese.

I also wonder what amount of consultation has been engaged in with the people of the closing parishes?

In every parish generations of people have supported and built up the parishes.

Many parishioners have donated stained glass windows, marble altars and lecterns, works of art, pews etc.

And then along comes a bishop or priests and either sells or dumps the donated items.

People are quite right to be angry about this kind of thing. Families and people live in parishes for hundreds of years.

Bishops and priests are passing through.

In the Friburg case haw can you reduce 1000 plus parishes to only 40 ?



Etienne all dressed up in his gear

Good morning Bishop Pat,

I need to ask for your advice on what to do next as I phaven’t slept all night thinking about this.

I was given your details by another Parishioner from our Parish of St Cuthbert’s, Blackpool, where I have worshiped for over 32 years. My children were baptised and married here, so I have a close connection.

For the last few years, our Church has been joined up with the nearby St John Vianney’s and has has been under the care of a very able Polish Priest who resides here.

The Assistant for the last couple of years has been the unbearable and newly ordained Fr Daniel Etienne who resides at St John Vianney’s.

Fr Etienne has persistently bullied the Polish Priest since day one.  This was reported to the Bishop who did nothing.

More dressing up

The Polish Priest (the victim) has had enough of it and leaves this week to move to another Diocese.

Despite many of us raising concerns to Bishop Paul Swarbrick about the behaviour of Fr Daniel Etienne, we are shocked and disgusted that he has been appointed as our new Parochial Administrator when the Polish Priest leaves next week.

Mass behind a brass wall.

I won’t say what he did to bully the Polish Priest as that is a separate issue, but examples of his concerning and strange behaviour towards the rest of us include wearing black vestments for funerals and refusing to acknowledge funerals as a celebration of a life, introducing a regular Latin Mass without even asking anyone and saying this is the new direction for our Parish, making it clear that there isn’t any place in the Church for lay people, making it clear that women’s only job should be to clean the Church.

He has no people skills at all and often ignores anyone who says good morning to him, he dresses up in a long cassock and often wears head gear like a 1960’s Priest, he constantly looks down his nose at us and makes us feel like second class citizens, he is often rude and confrontational, he has said he is disbanding the music group because there is no place in God’s house for guitars and perhaps worst of all, he continually spreads gossip between Parishioners.

Michaela Campbell encouraging nonsense.

All of this has made our once lovely Church, a place that is well, just not nice anymore. He formally takes over next week and already he has replaced all photos on the websit with photos of himself, and in this week’s newsletter, he has issued a statement making it clear that he has been appointed with the full backing of the Bishop (clearly acknowledging the fact that he knows that he is not wanted here).

Never in all my years did I think I would ever complain about  how my Parish is being run, but I feel that since Fr Etienne will not listen (infact his behaviours just get worse when he is challenged) and the Bishop just ignores us all, I am left with no choice.

I am even more alarmed that this dangerous and immature Priest is the Assistant Vocations Director.

On the bus – in a cassock.

I’m from and HR background and I know that recruiters often recruit people in their own likeness, so God help us all.  I really want the best for this man. He needs a strong mentor and I’d have thought that the Bishop would have handled this situation.

From what I know about Bishop Paul, he is a warm and prayerful man, but he is clearly not a leader and he cannot deal with difficult situations at all.

He basically told us that we must be the problem and should try to get along with Father. I am asking for your advice on what to do next.



Dear Mrs ……

Sorry to hear of your troubles in your parish and the trouble with the newly ordained Etienne, who clearly has strong Tridentine tendencies.

I looked on the Lancaster website and saw the personal qualities desired of a priest:

Personal qualities

A genuine love and respect for the Church.

A spirit of self-sacrifice

A natural inclination of service to all in need.

Generosity, kindness and humility.

A real desire to assist the bishop, and to serve the people.

The capacity to put others first.

Uninterested in status or prestige.

Integrity of life.

A capacity for dialogue, implying a sense of readiness to learn from others and an openness to others

The ability to share the Faith.

The ability to listen respectfully to other’s points of view.

The capacity to listen carefully.

The capacity to stand up for the truth and respectfully challenge others.

Good communication skills.

A sense of responsibility, including fulfilling one’s word and completing one’s work.

Self-directed and collaborative accountability.

Balanced and prudent judgement.

The ability to lead, motivate, facilitate and animate others into appropriate action.

I cannot see Etienne as possessing:

1. A natural inclination to service.

2. Generousity, kindness and humility.

3. The capacity to put others first.

4. Uninterested in status or prestige.

5. A capacity for dialogue, implying a sense of readiness to learn from others and an openness to others

6. The ability to listen respectfully to other’s points of view.

7. Good communication skills.

So, you and the other parishioners must FIRMLY STAND UP TO HIM.

The bishop may be “holy” but a bishop also needs to lead and challenge wrong.

Tell the bishop what you intend to do if he does not act

If they won’t listen to dialogue:

1. Stop contributing to all collections.

2. Place a picket on Etienne’s house.

3. Involve your local media.

4. Start up a STOP ETIENNE social media account.

The only way these bishops and priests will listen is when they are getting media attention and losing money.

Sad, but true.

Keep me informed.

If I can do anything else to help I will.

My telephone no

07488 374364



The ‘imported’ priests saving Ireland’s ageing clergy


As a child I used to have to bring a penny into school soke days for the “black babies” in Africa, South Africa, India etc.

It now seems they are repaying us by sending us their priests when we are running out of our own.

By Tim O’Donnell BBC

Ireland’s population is rapidly ageing – and so too are its Catholic priests. Some Church leaders are looking abroad for younger talent to help fill the ranks.

Father Francis Xavier Kochuveettil got off the plane in Dublin Airport a little less than two years ago and was quickly stung by the Irish air. The weather had topped out at 2C that day. The temperature felt particularly biting because Kochuveettil had just come from Kerala, a state in southern India where the weather hovers somewhere in the vicinity of 20-30C all year.

“My God, I thought, what’s happening to me?” he says. Kochuveettil, 41, has since adjusted to the wind-chill: he’s grown fond of Ireland while ministering to Catholics in Shannon Parish in the country’s south-west.

Kochuveettil is one of four priests from the Cochin diocese (a Catholic administrative district) in Kerala who are currently serving in Ireland’s Killaloe diocese. These men, along with other priests from abroad, are helping fill a gaping void in Ireland’s clergy as priests age and younger generations eschew the once-esteemed profession.

Currently, the average age for an Irish priest hovers around 70. The number of priests dying or retiring far outweighs the number joining the ranks

The number of priests in Ireland has fallen precipitously since 1959, according to The Vanishing Catholic Priest, a study conducted by sociologist Brian Conway of National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Conway notes there were a few, brief upticks in the years following Pope John Paul II’s visit to the country in 1979, and just before the first major Church scandals broke in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But last year, only five men began training for the priesthood at Ireland’s main seminary, St Patrick’s College in Maynooth.

It does not bode well for the future of the profession – especially considering that the average age for an Irish priest is hovering around 70. But Irish leadership is not giving up hope of rekindling the ailing profession as Church leaders begin to actively recruit priests from abroad.

The number of men training for the priesthood has declined sharply: only five began training last year at Ireland’s main seminary, St Patrick’s College in Maynooth (Credit: Alamy)

The great decline

Last year the Irish Examiner published a report on the state of Ireland’s dioceses, which brought their struggles to light. For example, in the Diocese of Kerry, there were just 54 priests for 53 parishes. Of the 54 priests, only six were younger than 50.
Dublin’s Archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, said in a speech in Dublin in November 2017 that 57% of Dublin’s priests were older than 60 – that number is projected to increase to 75% by 2030. Further estimates show that just one new priest younger than the age of 40 will join the priesthood in Dublin every year until 2030.

In short, the number of priests dying or retiring far outweighs the number joining the ranks.

These demographics are why Father Finton Monahan, the Bishop of Killaloe diocese, has established relationships with bishops in Kerala, where vocations are stronger. He has begun placing priests from the Indian state in parishes throughout his dioceses. Four priests are from Kerala – Kochuveettil, and Fathers Rexon Chullickal, Joy Micle Njarakattuvely and Antony Puthiyaveettil – and one priest, Father Dariusz Plasek, is from Poland. Priests have also come to other dioceses in Ireland from countries such as Romania, Nigeria, Uganda and the Philippines.

In the 2016 Irish census, ‘no religion’ saw the biggest increase of all faiths, while those identifying as Catholic fell

Ireland’s clergy decline seems to be a natural outcome of the country’s societal and demographic changes. Ireland, like many European countries, is ageing while its birth rate is falling; according to the 2016 census, the number of people older than 65 increased by 19.1% since 2011 – double that of people aged 15 to 64.

Estimates released in April also revealed a negative net migration for Irish nationals, as 2,100 more left the country than returned in 2018.

Conway points to structural changes in society as an even greater factor. Young men in Ireland have many more secular professional opportunities than they used to, and the priesthood simply does not have the same appeal it once did. And although more groups are advocating for their inclusion Church leadership, women are still barred from the Catholic priesthood globally, which automatically shrinks the recruitment pool by half.

Formerly a priest in southern India, Fr Kochuveettil now ministers to Catholics in the Shannon Parish, in south-west Ireland (Credit: Father Francis Xavier Kochuveettil)

Settling into home away from home

Monahan’s ‘experiment’ has achieved good results in Killaloe.

Kochuveettil says he has connected well with people in Shannon. He says he came to Ireland with limited English-speaking abilities, but the parishioners and fellow priests gave him the confidence he needed to develop those skills. From the start, he routinely received dinner invitations and he and Puthiyaveettil recently accompanied Monahan and about 450 parishioners on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, in France.

“The elderly folk, they’ve adopted them as their grandsons,” Monahan jokes, referring to the comparatively youthful Kochuveettil and Puthiyaveettil, who is in his 20s. “They really took to them, big time.”

Fellow priest Chullickal, who is based in Nenagh Parish in County Tipperary, describes his parishioners as very generous. He was touched when they put their money together and raised €2,100 for his home diocese of Cochin after monsoon rains swept through the region in June. “I did not ask them to do this,” he says.

Dublin’s Archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, has acknowledged that the country’s clergy are primarily elders – and that the number dying outweighs the number joining (Credit: Alamy)

Chullickal has been in Tipperary since November 2017 and says he’d be thrilled to renew his tenure in Ireland after his three-year term is up next year.
Although everyone is happy with how things have played out, Monahan says recruiting priests from abroad is not currently the only long-term solution to the priesthood’s woes. The Irish Church is also encouraging lay people to take up greater roles in day-to-day operations and, despite the odds, leadership is still determined to increase homegrown vocations.

But even getting people – especially youth – to Mass has been a tough sell, says Kochuveettil.

Conway says Ireland, in what amounts to a historical reversal, has now become a mission country itself. Although a Catholic renaissance could be possible, he believes that the Church may continue to shrink to the point where it is akin to a minority church.

The elderly folk, they’ve adopted [the new priests] as their grandsons – Father Finton Monahan

Others are more optimistic. Margaret Cartwright, the director of Vocations Ireland, says she has personally experienced an upward trend in interest from young people in her efforts to recruit them to religious life. She says that stems from her plan to help religious orders modernise their recruitment tactics, so they can communicate more easily with younger generations.

There is, in fact, some statistical evidence that Catholicism can still captivate Ireland. Irish Catholics between the ages of 16 and 29 actually attend weekly Mass at the third highest rate in Europe after Poland and Portugal. The number is declining, but still healthier than most of the continent.

For now, as the elders that led the Church are ageing out, Kochuveettil is hopeful that he and other younger priests from abroad can keep the flame burning – and the priesthood thriving. “It’s there in these people’s blood,” says Kochuveettil. “But it’s in a dormant state. If they get a kind of spark, it will become a big fire.”


It will take some spark to stoke the Irish RCC flicker into a flame again, much less a big fire.

And, with the best will in the world, priests from the sub continent will not fully appreciate Irish culture and spirituality.

Bishops like Lugs Monahan of Kilalloe, are just filling holes with anyone they can grab from anywhere in the world rather than really addressing the issues of married and woman priests.



“Larry is uncomfortable with Kevin Connolly getting too much attention in Aghadrumsee and moving him to Fintona”.

Larry, is Bishop Larry Duffy of Clogher.

Remember the song composed for Kevin on the Blog?


(To the tune of Biddly Mulligan the pride of the Coombe)


You may travel from Clare to the county Kildare,

From Clones right down to the Ski,

But where would you see a fine cleric like me,

Kevi Connolly the Pride of Drumsee

Me boys

Kevi Connolly the pride of Drumsee.

I’m a well hung young buck and I live in a shuck.

In Clogher they call it Drumsee.

My stops and my calls are well known to all

And my habits are plain for to see.

I loved Heery and Wilson and dear Mickey Byrne.

Not to mention Saint Joseph’s Young Priests.





Vatican issues guide for investigating priests accused of abuse 

by Christopher Lamb

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
CNS photo/Paul Haring

The Vatican has issued a detailed guide for how Church leaders should handle allegations of abuse by clergy against children.

The handbook, a Vademecum, sets out how bishops and religious superiors should investigate abuse, including the obligation to report allegations to civic authorities.  

Although the instruction manual effectively summarises existing laws, it is the first time the Vatican has published how the internal Church process for investigating and prosecuting abuse cases works. This tool was proposed by the landmark abuse summit which took place in the Vatican on 21-24 February 2019, in the latest attempt to forge a unified Church response to the abuse crisis.  

“The course of justice cannot alone exhaust the church’s response, but it is necessary in order to come to the truth of the facts,” Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department which produced the Vademecum, explained. 

The handbook says that allegations of abuse do not have to be a formal complaint but can come through anonymous sources, a third party or social media. Bishops and superiors are urged not to simply dismiss allegations even if they appear doubtful.

“At times, a notitia de delicto (information about an offence) can derive from an anonymous source, namely, from unidentified or unidentifiable persons,” the manual explains.  

“The anonymity of the source should not automatically lead to considering the report as false.  Nonetheless, for easily understandable reasons, great caution should be exercised in considering this type of notitia, and anonymous reports certainly should not be encouraged.”
Church leaders, the guidebook stresses, are obliged to refer allegations to the relevant state authorities, and onto Rome where they will be investigated by the doctrine congregation. 

“Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts,” the guide explains. 

The Vademecum also explains about allegations being made during confession, saying the priest “should seek to convince the penitent to make that information known by other means, in order to enable the appropriate authorities to take action.”
In Australia, a new law will force priests to break the confidentiality – or seal – of confession and to report any abuse revealed in the confessional, and a public inquiry in England and Wales is examining this issue. 

The handbook looks at how to make an initial judgment about the veracity of allegations. It explains that an allegation must lack “the semblance of truth” before it is investigated, which would include “if it is a well-known fact that the person accused could not have been present at the place of the delict when the alleged actions took place.” 

At the same time, “it is advisable that the Ordinary or Hierarch communicate to the CDF the notitia de delicto and the decision made to forego the preliminary investigation due to the manifest lack of the semblance of truth.”

During a preliminary investigation, the guide explains, “the important thing is to reconstruct, to the extent possible, the facts on which the accusation is based, the number and time of the criminal acts, the circumstances in which they took place and general details about the alleged victims, together with a preliminary evaluation of the eventual physical, psychological and moral harm inflicted”. 

Since the February abuse summit, which brought together the presidents of bishops conferences from across the world, the Pope and the Holy See have issued a series of anti-abuse measures in an attempt to tackle the global sexual abuse crisis. These include changes to laws over the pontifical secret, new norms for the reporting of abuse and ensuring bishops are held accountable, and new anti-abuse laws for the Vatican City State.


This is what the Vatican says on paper.

I wonder will it all really happen in practice?

The civil authorities in all countries should make it legally binding that those who do not report reported to them be prosecuted.

I notice that they also say that even anonymous reports submitted on social media should also be investigated.

Is there a danger that in these cases people will maliciously make false reports about priests they dont like?

The investigating authorities will need to proceed cautiously with anonymous social media complaints.




It took nearly two millennia for the enemies of the Catholic Church to realize they could not successfully attack the Church from the outside. Indeed, countless nemeses from Nero to Napoleon succeeded only in creating sympathy and martyrs for our Catholic Faith.

That all changed in the mid-19th century, when clandestine societies populated by Modernists and Marxists hatched a plan to subvert the Catholic Church from within. Their goal: to change Her doctrine, Her liturgy, and Her mission.

In this captivating and carefully documented book, Dr. Taylor Marshall pulls back the curtain on their nefarious plan, showing how these enemies of Christ strategically infiltrated the seminaries, then the priesthood, then the episcopacy, and eventually the cardinal-electors – all with the eventual goal of electing one of their own as pope.

You’ll come to see that the seemingly endless scandals plaguing the Church are not the result, as so many think, of cultural changes, or of Vatican II, but rather the natural consequences of an orchestrated demonic plot to destroy the Church.

In these gripping pages, you’ll discover:

• How popes of the 1800s discovered a plot to infiltrate the Church
• How theologians suspected of being Modernists became Vatican powerbrokers.
• How modifications in Catholic canon law enabled predator priests like Theodore McCarrick to stay in positions of power.
• How Our Lady of La Salette gave a prophetic warning of the plot to infiltrate the Church.
• How the chief architect of liturgical reforms was discovered to be a Freemason.
• Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s role in exposing the Communist infiltration of the priesthood.
• How the confusing history of the Third Secret of Fatima relates to the infiltration of the Catholic Church.
• That Pope Paul VI explained that Vatican II was not infallible.
• How Pope Paul VI revoked the voting rights of cardinals over 80, thus guaranteeing that all voting cardinals were appointed by him.
• How the criteria for sainthood shifted from a person’s historical acts to his personal beliefs.
• The complex roots of the St. Gallen Mafia and how they plotted to modify Catholic doctrine and elect Pope Francis.

From the Inside Flap

It took nearly two millennia for the enemies of the Catholic Church to realize they could not successfully attack the Church from the outside. Indeed, countless nemeses from Nero to Napoleon succeeded only in creating sympathy and martyrs for our Catholic Faith.

That all changed in the mid-19th century, when clandestine societies populated by Modernists and Marxists hatched a plan to subvert the Catholic Church from within. Their goal: to change Her doctrine, Her liturgy, and Her mission.

In this captivating and carefully documented book, Dr. Taylor Marshall pulls back the curtain on their nefarious plan, showing how these enemies of Christ strategically infiltrated the seminaries, then the priesthood, then the episcopacy, and eventually the cardinal-electors “€” all with the eventual goal of electing one of their own as pope.

You’ll come to see that the seemingly endless scandals plaguing the Church are not the result, as so many think, of cultural changes, or of Vatican II, but rather the natural consequences of an orchestrated demonic plot to destroy the Church.

About the Author

Dr. Taylor Marshall earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Dallas with his dissertation titled “Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law and the Twofold Beatitude of Humanity.” He is a best-selling author of eight books including: The Eternal City: Rome & the Origins of Catholic Christianity (Saint John Press, 2012), The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity (Saint John Press, 2009), The Catholic Perspective on Paul (Saint John Press, 2010), and Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages: A Layman’s Quick Guide to Thomism (Saint John Press, 2014). He has also published fictional works.

Dr. Marshall and his wife live in Texas with their eight children. He is the Founder of both the New Saint Thomas Institute and the Troops of Saint George.


Taylor Marshall comes across to me as a man with a compartmentalised intelligence.

He obviously has enough intellectual ability to gain Ph.D.

But it is contrary to all true intelligence and knowledge to believe so absolutely in conspiracy theories.

The problem with the RCC did not start 100 years ago with the Freemasons.

It started 1700 years ago when the organised Christian Community chose a Roman emperor- Constantine – over Christ the King.

Then the Roman Empure Mk 11 was born.

And it’s been downhill ever since.

It was a grave mistake to place human tradition at the same level as Divine Revelation.

It was a grave mistake to make the Bishop of Rome – Christ upon earth.

It was a grave mistake to place canon law on the same level as the New Testament.

It was a grave mistake to become so solidly a part of the global establishment.

The Church will not be “restored” by the likes of the SSPX etc, or by the return of the Tridentine liturgy.

It will be restored when believers abandon the man made empire and find again the Jesus of the New Testament, His early NT community etc.

Jesus, the Scriptures and the Sacraments are THE BIG TOP.

Everything else is a side show of candy floss, snake oil peddlers and magicians with nothing substantial to offer.

“But men have shown that they prefer the darkness to the light”.

Taylor Marshall, God bless him, is no replacement for Jesus, in my humble opinion.




By Niall Christie TYE FERRET

All major psychological organisations in the UK consider conversion therapy unethical

THE Catholic Church has been told to act swiftly to shut down groups across Scotland accused of promoting gay conversion therapy after local community, school and university priests were linked to an international anti-LGBT organisation.

Priests have come under heavy criticism for their promotion and management of branches of Courage International, a Vatican-approved anti-LGBT programme which campaigners claim has long-standing links to so-called “cure therapy”.

Since 2017, the church in Scotland has strengthened its connections to the programme, with half of Scotland’s eight dioceses and archdioceses now hosting meetings run by local priests.

Across Europe only Italy has more chapters of Courage than Scotland.

The organisation does not believe people can be born lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and teaches them to live “chaste lives”, abstaining from sexual activity and suppressing their sexuality.

According to LGBT rights charity Stonewall, conversion therapy, “cure therapy” or reparative therapy refers to any form of treatment or counselling which aims to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

All major psychological, psychotherapeutic and counselling organisations in the UK consider conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation as unethical, potentially harmful and not supported by evidence.

Earlier this month the Conservative Government confirmed it would shortly be bringing forward plans to ban the practice across the UK.

While Courage claims it does not officially endorse the use of conversion therapy by its branches, its teaching and insistence LGBT people must remain chaste falls within Stonewall’s definition of these conversion techniques.

A spokesperson for Stonewall Scotland told The Ferret: “The promotion of the idea LGBT people can and should be cured or changed, is extremely dangerous, particularly for impressionable young people who may be seeking answers about themselves.

“These so-called conversion therapies have been condemned by all major UK health organisations as they try to shame a person into denying a core part of who they are.

“Same-sex attraction is natural and normal. Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are not ill. LGBT people seeking support need to be accepted for who they are, not subjected to prejudice and these harmful practices.”

Campaigners and politicians have now said the church must act to end all links with Courage International.

Scottish Greens co-leader and equalities spokesperson, Patrick Harvie MSP, said: “I wish I could say I was shocked this cruel and dangerous practice is taking place in Scotland at all, but the fact it appears to have grown in recent years is a moral stain on Scotland’s ambition to be an inclusive and welcoming country.

“Even the Tory Government in Westminster has recognised this should be illegal. The Catholic church in Scotland must act swiftly not only to publicly condemn conversion therapy but to put an immediate stop to their members’ promotion of it.”
Courage’s branches in Scotland launched almost three years ago after a UK tour by Courage director, Father Philip Bochanski.

The Diocese of Paisley was the first area of Scotland to launch a Courage chapter in late 2017, organised by Bishop John Keenan.

Bishop Keenan has travelled across the world for conferences linked to conversion therapy techniques, including with a delegation of young people from Scotland during a July 2019 trip to Courage International’s annual conference in the United States.

The former Glasgow University chaplain gave the closing speech at the gathering last year, where he said he had “admired Courage for decades”, before acting as the keynote speaker at an online conference run by Courage during lockdown in April.

LGBT Catholic advocates have said the continued promotion of conversion therapy within the church is “cruel”, warning it causes long-term harm to the health of gay and queer people.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, said: “We have heard from people that some leaders and local chapters have recommended it to people.

“Recommending this kind of therapy, especially when it is connected to religious ideas of repentance and prayer or is conducted under religious auspices, is psychologically and pastorally harmful.

“Catholic Church officials, at all levels of governance, should roundly denounce and forbid the practice of so-called conversion or reparative therapy for LGBT individuals.”

Following the launch in Paisley, two groups – in Glasgow and the Diocese of Motherwell – were started by local priests in 2018 as part of a Scottish expansion.

BISHOP Keenan’s successor as University of Glasgow chaplain, Father Ross Campbell (above), also set up his own Courage chapter in Scotland, before joining him on the journey to Courage’s conference in July 2019.

Father Campbell reportedly carries out his ministry off campus to avoid confrontations with LGBT campaigners. He says his work as Courage chaplain for the Archdiocese of Glasgow is done separately from his work as university chaplain.

A priest working with schools and youth groups in North Lanarkshire also continues to operate a Courage branch, launched in 2018.

Father Martin Delaney, who works at St Aloysius’ Catholic Church, Chapelhall and Sacred Heart, Salsburgh, works as chaplain for schools in Motherwell and is in charge of youth ministry for the diocese.

What is conversion therapy? – TREVOR

Conversion therapy, sometimes referred to as “reparative therapy,” is any of several dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapists use a variety of shaming, emotionally traumatic or physically painful stimuli to make their victims associate those stimuli with their LGBTQ identities. According to studies by the UCLA Williams Institute, more than 700,000 LGBTQ people have been subjected to the horrors of conversion therapy, and an estimated 80,000 LGBTQ youth will experience this unprofessional conduct in coming years, often at the insistence of well-intentioned but misinformed parents or caretakers.

Does conversion therapy work?

No. Conversion therapy is premised on the false notion that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that should be cured, despite all major medical associations’ agreement that LGBTQ identities are a normal variant of human nature. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality was not a mental illness in 1973.
In addition to its flawed foundation, no credible scientific study has ever supported the claims of conversion therapists  to actually change a person’s sexual orientation. On the contrary, a 2007 report by an American Psychological Association task force found that “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through [sexual orientation change efforts].” In fact, Dr. Robert Spitzer, whose research had previously been misused to support conversion therapy, has retracted his original claims, stating that data regarding conversion therapy had been misinterpreted and that there is no conclusive evidence for its effectiveness.

Is conversion therapy harmful?

Yes. The risks of conversion therapy extend far beyond its ineffectiveness, and the time and money wasted on “therapies” that don’t work. The American Psychiatric Association has clarified that “the potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.” The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health

Organization, concluded that conversion therapy, “lack[s] medical justification and represent[s] a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

Conversion therapy amplifies the shame and stigma so many LGBTQ young people already experience. Parents who send their child to conversion therapy instill feelings of family rejection and disappointment and risk seriously fracturing their relationship with their child. In a study by San Francisco State University, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth who were rejected by their families and caregivers due to their identities were nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression and more than eight times more likely to have attempted suicide when compared to youth from accepting and affirming families and caregivers. Few practices hurt LGBTQ youth more than attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. All youth deserve a climate in which they are loved and embraced.

This Courage International crowd are a group of religious nuts.

Conversion Therapy goes against all decent scientific and medical understanding.

It’s a vile abuse of a human being. It’s like something out of concentration camps.

Its thoroughly disgusting, but hardly surprising, that it is being promoted by the RCC.

It should be outlawed everywhere.

Those practising it should be prosecuted, as should promoting it.

Someone said: “Sex will be the Catholic Church’s 20th century Galileo”.

It has come to pass.


Gay conversion therapy is nothing short of evil.

It is a Nazi like procedure.

It should be absolutely illegal.

Those who promote and practice it should be prosecuted and attract long sentences.



Someone pointed me to a new paper published online by Michael J. Byrne who is now a lay chaplain at St Colmcille’s Hospital Dublin.

I was very impressed with the article which explores the use of technology by chaplains as they reach out to Covid patients who are in medical isolation.

The article points out the normal feeling of isolation when one is unwell but the increased sense of isolation when you are cut off from all human contact, except medical staff in ppe.

It mentions Jesus’ experience of isolation in Gethsemane and how Covid is a “leprosy” in the sense of no one being able or wanting to touch you.

This was something I saw patients experiencing when I ministered to dying AIDS patients in the 1980s when they were ministered to by people like me, wearing something like space suits.

28 years ago I celebrated a wedding for a dying AIDS patient in Belvoir Park Hospital, Belfast.

Thankfully that is no more with the wonder of the antiretroviral drugs which stop HIV infected people getting AIDS at all.

And of these Corona viruses have the potential to be more devastating than AIDS ever was.

So, Michael, if you’re reading this, or anyone draws your attention to it, well done on your first professional paper and on the difference you are now making in the lives of the sick and dying.



New Orleans priest Fr. Andre Metrejean is being attacked for publicly defending the truth in love


There’s yet another uproar over Catholics opposing the celebration of same-sex sexual activity. Recently, Fr. Andre Metrejean, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Erath, Louisiana, criticized the New Orleans Saints for their decision to light up their stadium with “Pride” rainbow colors in honor of Pride month.

His Facebook post reads:

“Come on NOLA Saints. We want to support you. But this kinda of stunt hurts society and souls. Don’t bow down to these pressure groups. Kids have rights. Children deserve to have a dad and a mom. Plz dont support immorality. Cancel the PC Culture”.

The post blew up on social media, attracting more than 500 comments, some of which accused the parish of “hatefulness” and “bigotry.” One woman, a native of Erath, has even requested the Diocese of Lafayette to remove Fr. Andre Metrejean as pastor because she views his comments as “homophobic.”

Fr. Metrejean responded to the backlash saying his disapproval was not one of hate, but simply a message about “the truth about sexuality and God’s plan for it.” As his message says, “Plz don’t support immorality.”

What’s interesting is that Fr. Metrejean’s message is nothing more than a reiteration of the Catholic Church’s teaching on same-sex sexual activity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved (2357; emphasis added).

Fr. Metrejean was simply echoing Catholic teaching and inviting the New Orleans Saints to not celebrate that which the “Pride” movement celebrates: same-sex sexual activity. So, it’s not really Fr. Metrejean that the offended have a problem with. It’s Catholic teaching that they can’t stomach.

Now, it’s one thing to disagree with Catholic teaching on same-sex sexual activity and think it’s wrong. But it’s another to say such a teaching is homophobic, bigoted, or hateful.

Think about what this entails. The Catholic Church, and in this particular case Fr. Metrejean, is viewed as being mean-spirited simply for making a negative moral evaluation about a certain behavior.
But, if to make a negative judgment about the morality of a certain behavior were mean spirited, then it would be mean-spirited to make negative judgments about the morality of any behavior. And I assume that’s not something these folks want to go with.

For starters, it would undermine their criticism of Fr. Metrejean. If it were mean-spirited to make negative judgments about the morality of behaviors, then it would be mean-spirited for them to judge Fr. Metrejean’s behavior as homophobic, hateful, and bigoted. That’s a negative judgment about the morality of someone’s behavior.

Moreover, if we shouldn’t make judgments about the way people behave, then we wouldn’t be able criticize any type of behavior. We wouldn’t be able to criticize the evil of racism. We wouldn’t be able to criticize the evil of physical and sexual abuse of children. The list goes on.

According to the logic of those who opposed Fr. Metrejean, none of these behaviors could be judged as immoral. And if someone did make such a judgment, the same labels of hatred and bigotry could be applied.

But, surely the folks who are opposing Fr. Metrejean wouldn’t label the disapproval of the above morally deviant behaviors as being hateful or bigoted. I assume they would view such disapproval as just right reason.

If they wouldn’t label disapproval of these immoral activities as hateful or bigoted, then they shouldn’t label Fr. Metrejean’s, and the Catholic Church’s, disapproval of same-sex sexual activity as hateful or bigoted.

Fr. Metrejean responded to the harsh criticisms by calling to mind that love is the reason why the Catholic Church teaches what it does when it comes to same-sex sexual activity:

My parish, my Church, my Bible, my Catholic tradition, my Lord, we don’t hate you, we love you. That’s why we preach what we do. This is not about exclusion, this is not about judging others, this is about saving souls and bringing people the power of the blood of Christ.

The motivation of love for Fr. Metrejean expressing his negative views (and the Catholic Church’s views) about same-sex sexual activity reveals the real issue at hand: whether this activity is something morally good or bad.

If same-sex sexual activity were not good for us insofar as we are human beings, then it would be harmful in that it would harm our moral character. And if such behavior were morally harmful, then we shouldn’t accept or celebrate it, even if civil authorities might tolerate it.

And the choice to not accept and celebrate such human behavior wouldn’t be any more mean-spirited or disrespectful than it would be to not accept or celebrate human behavior that involves racism, child abuse, murder, thievery, or rape. On the contrary, such a choice would be an expression of love because love is to will the good of another.

So, the real issue is not whether someone like Fr. Metrejean (or the Catholic Church for that matter) is mean-spirited and disrespectful for not accepting and celebrating same-sex sexual activity. It’s whether such behavior is morally good or bad, and thus worthy of acceptance and celebration or rejection and lamentation.

Moreover, if those who oppose Fr. Metrejean’s views desire to exemplify love, then they might want to stop throwing around labels that demean a person without giving a reasoned argument as to why his views are wrong. For such behavior is the essence of bigotry. There is nothing kind and respectful about being unwilling to give a fair hearing to opposing views and insulting the person rather than reasoned debate.


Here we go, another younger priest, trying to force RCC teaching on society at large.

The RCC is entitled to believe anti scientific bullshit but they should most certainly not be allowed to impose their beliefs on society.

In a modern society gay rights are recognized and should be recognized.

A proper modern democracy recognises that homosexuality is a valid, stand alone sexual orientation.

As a result a proper modern democracy recognises civil same sex marriage and the civil same sex couples right to have, adopt or foster children.

Such a society should regard discrimination against gay people in anyplace, including RCC schools, hospitals and institutions, as criminal.

Society should “tolerate” religions and denominations, but NEVER allow them to influence the secular order.

The RCC, as far as society is concerned, shoukd simply a private members club, like a golf club.

We would not allow a private golf club to interfere in society.

Nor should we allow a private religious club to interfere either.

I wonder if this Metrejean bloke is a repressed homosexual?



09 JULY 2020, THE TABLET George Weigel

White smoke from a Sistine Chapel chimney signals that a new pope has been chosen
Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

The biographer of John Paul II believes that Catholicism in Western Europe is moribund.

As other Christian communities with a clear sense of moral identity flourish, only a pope offering doctrinal clarity will make the faith compelling

In John 8:31-32, the Lord Jesus proclaims that those who “continue in his word” will “know the truth, and the truth will make you free”. Thus the next pope must understand that doctrine is liberating, and that Catholicism can and must be both a Christ-centred Church of doctrinal clarity and a Christ-centred Church manifesting the divine mercy. That understanding will help him, and it will help the Church he leads, to cope with a basic sociological fact about the Christian circumstance today.

There seems to be a kind of iron law built into the relationship between Christianity and modernity (and late modernity, and post-modernity, and probably whatever is coming after post-modernity): Christian communities that have a clear sense of doctrinal and moral identity can survive, even flourish, under the challenges posed by contemporary culture; Christian communities whose sense of identity becomes weak and whose boundaries become porous wither – and some die.

This iron law was first demonstrated among the various forms of liberal Protestantism around the world. The liberal Protestant denominations that began abandoning doctrinal clarity in the nineteenth century and moral clarity in the twentieth are dying – everywhere.

The part of Protestantism throughout the world that is growing is evangelical, Pentecostal, or fundamentalist. And while there are vast differences in theological sensibility and pastoral method among evangelical Protestants, Pentecostalists and Protestant fundamentalists, each of these forms of Christianity exhibits clarity of teaching and strong moral expectations.

The iron law is also applicable to world Catholicism.

There is a strong correlation between the collapse of Catholic belief and practice in Western Europe and the ongoing attempt there to make “Catholic Lite” – a Catholicism of indeterminate convictions and porous behavioural boundaries – work as a twenty-first-century pastoral method. This phenomenon is most obvious in the German-speaking lands of Europe but it is not confined there. Catholic Lite is an evangelical and pastoral failure throughout Western Europe, as it is an evangelical and pastoral failure in North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

By contrast, the living, vibrant parts of the world Church in the third decade of the twenty-first century are those that have made the proclamation of the Gospel their priority; that teach the Catholic faith in full, with imagination and compassion; and that offer fallen-away Catholics, dissatisfied Protestants, and unbelievers a reformed and more satisfying way of life, rooted in friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is most obviously true of the newer local Churches of sub-Saharan Africa. It is also true of the growing end of the Church in North America. And it is true of those shoots of new Christian life that are sprouting up through the hard, secularised soil of Europe.

This basic truth of twenty-first-century Catholic life – Catholicism-in-full is attractive and compelling; Catholic Lite is moribund – also extends across a range of Catholic institutions.

It is true of parishes, dioceses, religious communities, seminaries and lay renewal movements. Perhaps the most dramatic example is found in communities of women Religious in the West. There, communities that have abandoned the religious habit and a distinctive mode of life, and whose members regularly dissent from authoritative church teaching, are dying; those that have embraced the reform of religious life mandated by the Second Vatican Council in the decree, Perfectae Caritatis, as authoritatively interpreted by Pope John Paul II in the 1996 apostolic exhortation, Vita Consecrata, are growing – even as society makes more and more opportunities for service and leadership available to women.

Lay renewal movements in the Church follow a similar pattern: those that have flourished in the past several decades embrace Catholicism-in-full.

That Catholicism-in-full attracts is also demonstrated by the remarkable fact that, in the United States, seminary recruitment has not collapsed under the pressure of the scandal of clerical sexual abuse. A young man discerning a priestly vocation today is not only considering a challenging way to live his Catholic faith, he is taking a great risk of social opprobrium. Yet across the US, twenty-first-century seminaries are populated by young men who want to embrace the Gospel in full and who are uninterested in Catholic Lite.

Catholicism-in-full does not set “Gospel” against “doctrine”. That is a Protestantising move that has done grave damage to the Christian identity and witness of many Christian communities born from the Reformations of the sixteenth century. Catholicism-in-full recognises that the basic Gospel proclamation – “Jesus is Lord” – was developed intellectually by a Spirit-led movement within the Church, which produced the Church’s creeds and its defining dogmatic statements.

Catholicism-in-full also recognises that, under the same divine inspiration, the Church’s understanding of the truths that make the Church who she is develops over time – always in continuity with what has been handed on from the past. Thus Catholicism-in-full deploys both Gospel and doctrine in evangelisation and pastoral ministry, believing that the full truth of Catholic faith is indeed liberating in the deepest meaning of human freedom.

The failures of Catholic Lite have been manifest for some time, and it takes a special kind of arrogance, or just plain stubbornness, not to face the empirical facts of the contemporary Catholic situation.

Catholic Lite may have the capacity to maintain existing Catholic institutions for a time; Catholic Lite has demonstrated no capacity to grow those institutions or, more importantly, to transform them into platforms for evangelisation and mission.

This suggests that, in the not-too-distant future, Catholic Lite will lead to “Catholic Zero”, or something that looks remarkably similar to Catholic Zero – a Catholicism that has lost any serious capacity for either mission or public witness.

Examples of this can be found in both Europe and North America, in once-vibrant Catholic cultures and societies such as those in Quebec, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. These societies are now aptly described as “post-Christian”. And in several cases, “post-Christian” is rapidly decaying into “anti-Christian”, with the Church incapable of mounting any defence of the innocent against the culture of death, or of responding to the anti-Christian propaganda in politics, culture and the media that seeks to drive the Church out of public life.

To repeat and sum up: there is no example, anywhere in the world, of Catholic Lite delivering on its promise of “relevance”. Where Catholic Lite has infected local Churches, evangelical fervour has diminished and so has the Catholic capacity to shape humane societies. These situations are sometimes described, and by high-ranking churchmen, as a “pastoral emergency” for which more and lighter Catholic Lite is prescribed.

The iron law of Christianity and modernity suggests an alternative diagnosis and prescription. The “emergency” is a collapse of deep faith that Jesus is Lord, which has led to a failure to proclaim the Gospel. The remedy is a vibrant Catholicism-in-full offering friendship with Jesus Christ and incorporation into the communion of his friends as a pathway to human happiness, fulfilment – and salvation. The next pope must know these truths and lead the Church in light of them.

Caricatures to the contrary notwithstanding, Catholicism-in-full is not a revival of Jansenism or other forms of moral rigourism in the Church. The vibrant, living parts of the world Church are not those reserving the handclasp of fellowship to the already perfected. The living parts of the world Church are those that offer friendship with Jesus Christ to those caught in the worship of false gods, be those the gods that terrify indigenous peoples or, in the West, the false god of the imperial autonomous Self – the false god “Me”.

The living parts of the world Church are those that offer mercy as well as truth, while recognising that the most merciful thing a Christian can do for suffering or lost souls is to offer them the truth: that, in Jesus Christ, we meet the face of the merciful Father and the truth about ourselves – the Father who welcomes the prodigals home when they acknowledge that they have squandered their human dignity, and the truth that that dignity is magnified in Christ.

When a pope manifests the power of divine mercy in his own life, he empowers the people of the Church to be agents of that mercy in the world.

The next pope must live and teach in such a way that the relationship between mercy and truth is clear, and he must live and teach in such a way that mercy (which the world often confuses with therapeutic forgetfulness) does not devolve into sentimentality. The divine mercy is purifying as well as comforting, and what can seem comforting will not be truly comforting over time if it is detached from purification.

Growth into the Christian life is a lifelong process for all. The lesson involves both truth and mercy. Catholics learn that lesson from the lives of the saints, beginning with Peter himself. The next pope must teach that lesson to a Church sometimes confused about the intimate relationship between mercy and truth and should display the meaning of the lesson in his own self-emptying witness to Christ.

Adapted and excerpted from The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission, published this week by Ignatius Press.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. His books include Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II.


Weigel is proposing a return to CATHOLICISM IN FULL to to turn around the great decline in world Catholicism.


Is it the reinstatement of Limbo into which unbaptised babies are flung?

Is it the reinstatement of churching the mother of a new born baby before she is worthy of receiving Holy Communion.

Is it a return to the Magdalen Laundry concentration camps for girls pregnant outside marriage?

Is it a return to church run institutions where children were abused sexually, physically and mentally by priests, brothers and nuns?

Is it a return to convents where wealthy entrants bringing a dowry were choir sisters and poorer women became “lay sisters” who were the slaves of the choir sisters?

Is it a return to a church that was mates with Hitler, Mussolini, Franco etc?

Is it a return to a church where Irish peasants knelt in puddles on the road when the priest went by on his horse?

Is it a return to a church that dominated the state and outlawed divorce and contraception?

Is it a return to a church that told us it was a mortal sin to enter a Protestant church?

I dont believe for one minute that a church of that kind would save Christian Catholicism.

The RCC will be renewed when it returns to the model of the early New Testament church – when it was not part of the establishment and before it became an empire.

And it’s not about NUMBERS.

Better to have 1000 true Christian Catholics than 1.3 billion nominal ones.

Catholicism full was the bad old days.

No sane person wants back there.



I have never heard Confessions remotely.

But I have to ask myself if the archbishop is right.

Remember the centurion from the Gospel. Jesus offered to go and heal his dying servant. But the centurion said that his house would be unworthy of the presence of Jesus. So Jesus healed the man remotely or virtually.

Was that not Jesus performing the Sacrament of the Sick remotely?

Through sacraments, we Catholics believe we receive God’s grace.

That grace comes to us from an infinite distance as God is both imminently present with us and infinitely distant from us.

If God’s grace can reach us from WHEREVER God is, can the grace of a sacrament not travel to us by sacrament from a distance of ten or fifty miles?

I remember John Shine in Waterford teaching us about Confessions. He said the sacramental grace of absolution could travel to us as long as we remained in the church building, but it could not follow us outside the building!

Grace exists in the eternal sphere.

Surely when we kneel down beside our bed at night and are truly sorry for our sins, we are immediately given fill forgiveness- and there is no priest present.

Could obligatory confession to a priest be part of the effort by clerics to bring all power, sacramental and otherwise under their control?

In Marriage, for instance, the ministers of the sacrament are the couple and the priest is only the witness?





“In our January 2019 (Issue #109) edition [available to download from our archives on the Newsletter page of our website),  and on this blog here, we published an email exchange between the Editor and an un-named seminarian at the Venerable English College in Rome (VEC) on the subject of the seminarian’s public support for “the gay culture” on social media outlets.  

Editor wrote to him expressing concern for the screen shots [and other material] she’d received from a concerned English reader, showing him, for example, ‘liking’ a “gay” club in Bristol on Facebook.

The club’s blasphemous name is ‘OMG’ – a common abbreviation for Oh My God – with the ‘g’ showing horns and a halo above…demonic. The seminarian also advertised the fact that he was on a [gay] “Pride” committee, while on Twitter he appears to support “gay marriage”.

Initially, he replied to say that he now accepted the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. At around the same time, a veritable tsunami of homosexual scandals involving homosexually active seminarians, priests and bishops hit the headlines and even Pope Francis was quoted as saying, behind closed doors to the Italian Bishops gathered for their plenary assembly, that it was necessary to “put the brakes” on “welcoming too many homosexuals” into seminaries. 

Editor, therefore, wrote to the English seminarian again, quoting the Vatican Instruction ‘Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders’. She highlighted the following key part of that document: The Church cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders, those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture”.

Editor now asked the seminarian to reconsider his position, promising to maintain anonymity at that time – hoping that he would realise that proceeding to ordination was the wrong thing to do. When he failed to reply to that request, she wrote to the authorities in the VEC: Monsignor Philip Whitmore, Archdiocese of Westminster, seminary rector; Fr John Flynn, Diocese of Salford, vice-rector; Fr John Metcalfe, Diocese of Hallam, Pastoral Director; Fr James McAuley, Diocese of Portsmouth, Academic Tutor; Fr Anthony Doe, Archdiocese of Westminster, Spiritual Director. This, in order to make sure that they were aware of the line of communication with the seminarian, and to remind them of the Church’s criteria for the discernment of vocations with regards to varying levels of homosexual tendency.

No replies were received from any of those concerned. The seminarian – Alexander Balzanella – was later ordained deacon, and is now proceeding towards ordination to the priesthood…

From the website of the Archdiocese of Westminster – 30/08/2019

Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia ordained Alexander Balzanella to the diaconate on Sunday 14th July at the Church of Our Lady of Snows Chapel in Villa Palazolla, just outside Rome. Alex is a Westminster seminarian studying at the Venerable English College (VEC) in Rome…(Rome ordination for Deacon Alex, published on the website of the Diocese of Westminster).  

Of course, homosexual priests, or those who support “the gay culture” are no longer making headline news anywhere, apparently welcomed as such by hierarchy and laity alike. However, we believe that, in the interests of transparency, for the sake of those few remaining Catholics who seek to avoid such influences over themselves and their children, we are now duty-bound to reveal the identity of the seminarian-now-deacon whom we reported back in 2019 for his public support of the “gay culture”. For senior churchmen, keeping the rules these days seems restricted to keeping the “Covid-19” rules – not the Church’s rules on admission to seminaries and certainly not the rules put in place by God – the Ten Commandments, the moral law.

Contrary, therefore, to what our enemies will claim, identifying this new deacon will not be to his detriment at all. If anything, we can look forward to writing a few lines of introduction to the new Bishop, if not Cardinal, Balzanella. Reflect…   Taken from Catholic Truth newsletter, July 2020, Issue No. 118, p.12

Comment from Editor…

As linked in the introduction above, we previously discussed this scandal in November, 2018 here

At that time, I asked bloggers to refrain from speculating as to the identity of the then seminarian, now deacon.  In this conversation, I would ask that the House rule prohibiting personal remarks be honoured, and that we all stick to the key issue which is the flouting, by bishops and senior seminary staff, of the Church’s directive on admission to seminaries: they are expected to  refuse admission to anyone who supports the so-called “gay culture”. (Vatican). 

Alexander Balzanella supported the “gay culture” during his seminary training at the Venerable English College in Rome.  If his superiors did not know about this, which is unlikely, it was drawn to their attention through the Catholic Truth correspondence.  Yet, in defiance of the Church’s prohibition on admitting to seminary and to Holy Orders those known to support the “gay culture”, he was ordained to the diaconate in the Diocese of Westminster. 

Manifestly, the hierarchy in Westminster (and the senior seminary staff) do not think it matters whether they ordain deacons and priests who support the “gay culture” (“Pride” events, nightclubs, “gay marriage”, whatever). 

Given the above email exchanges in the Case of Alexander Balzanella Vs the Church’s Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies…  it seems clear that no lessons at all have been learned from previous scandals in seminaries, such as those documented in the book Goodbye, Good Men by Michael S. Rose, or following the defrocking of the American Cardinal [now Mr] McCarrick in the USA. 

Instead, the homosexualisation of the priesthood continues apace. But, does it really matter?  Is it wrong to highlight the issue?  Would you want to know if your priest/deacon had a history of supporting the “gay culture”? Last but by no means least, would you want to know if your bishop ignored the Church’s criteria for seminary admission and ordination”?


Has Catholic Truth Scotland the right to contact seminarians and priests to challenge them on their sexuality or attitudes to sexuality?

Yes, they have. First of all it is a free country and all of us as citizens are entitled to express our thoughts and opinions on matters of concern to us.

Secondly  the members of CTS are members of the church and are part of the People of God.

The People of God are entitled to express their thoughts on matters concerning God and the church.

The teaching of the RCC is that gay men not be admitted to seminaries.

It is also part of the official teaching that men who support the gay culture are not to be accepted into seminaries.

The fact that the hierarchy and clergy are ignoring these teachings is very disengenious.

They should either change the teaching or abide by it.

How would it work in the English Football League if clubs accepted the rules of soccer intellectually but did not put them into practice on the pitch?

Would it not lead to confusion, tension and all kinds of trouble?

The RCC is a Gay friendly clerical club with anti gay teachings.

The Faithful find that disturbing and confusing.

And, of course, they will protest.